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International relations

Chinese coast guard ships enter Japan's waters near Senkakus

Repeated incursions follow new law in China allowing coast guard to use weapons

Chinese coast guard vessels entered Japan's territorial waters near the China-claimed Senkaku Islands on Feb. 16, approaching a Japanese fishing vessel, the Japan Coast Guard said.   © Reuters

NAHA, Japan (Kyodo) -- Two more Chinese coast guard vessels entered Japan's territorial waters near the China-claimed Senkaku Islands on Tuesday, prompting Tokyo to lodge a protest over repeated intrusions following Beijing's enactment of a new law that allows its coast guard to use weapons against foreign ships.

The two vessels intruded into the waters near the group of uninhabited islets in the East China Sea at around 4:15 a.m., joining two other Chinese coast guard boats that had entered the waters Monday, according to the Japan Coast Guard. The two new vessels pointed their bows toward a Japanese fishing boat and made a move to approach it, the coast guard said, adding that one of them is equipped with what appears to be an autocannon.

Japan's Foreign Ministry said it lodged a protest, as it did on Monday, with the Chinese government and urged it to withdraw the vessels immediately.

The two vessels arriving in the waters early Tuesday departed the area around 10:02 a.m., leaving the 9.97-ton fishing boat, with four people on board, under the protection of the Japanese coast guard, Chief Cabinet Secretary Katsunobu Kato said at a press conference.

The two other ships that had arrived Monday exited Japan's waters at around 12:20 p.m., according to the coast guard.

The repeated incursions come after a new law took effect in China at the start of this month explicitly allowing the Chinese coast guard to use weapons against foreign ships that Beijing sees as illegally entering its waters.

It is the seventh time this year that Chinese vessels have entered Japanese waters, according to the 11th Regional Coast Guard Headquarters based in Naha, Okinawa Prefecture.

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